Sweet Potato Pull-Apart Rolls

Ok, so I can’t tell a lie…when it comes to Thanksgiving, I have an ulterior motive.


I make sure to cook enough food to satisfy a college football team, twice over.  Go big or go home.

Hands down though, my favorite leftover combination is a turkey sandwich, on a soft roll, piled high with cranberry chutney and spicy brown mustard.  These sweet potato rolls transform my leftover turkey sandwich into a divine experience.  Comforting and absolutely delicious.

This recipe makes rolls that are just a bit sweet with a hint of orange.  The flavor of sweet potato is very delicate, but it does impart an earthy complexity and gorgeous orange hue to the rolls.  Soft and rich, these rolls are the perfect accompaniment to your holiday table.

Sweet Potato Orange Dinner Rolls

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (click here for the mix I use)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch (also referred to as tapioca flour)*
  • 3 tablepoons ground golden flax **
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil 
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup orange juice (from the zested orange)
  • exactly ¾ cup smoothly mashed sweet potato (bright orange flesh with darker skin)  ***
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 lightly beaten egg (for egg wash)

→  Grease a 10 inch cake pan or 9 x 13 inch metal baking pan.  Set aside.

→  In a bowl, dissolve the yeast and granulated sugar in the warm water.  Set aside for 10 minutes.

→  In your standing mixer (paddle attachment) combine the flour, tapioca starch, ground flax, xanthan gum, sea salt, and brown sugar.  Mix briefly to combine.

→  When the yeast is ready, add it to the dry ingredients, along with the oil, eggs, orange juice, sweet potato puree, and orange zest.

→  Mix for 2-3 minutes on Medium speed.  The batter will be very thick and sticky and should NOT clear the sides of the mixing bowl (gluten-free dough is more like a “batter” because it shouldn’t come together like wheat bread dough).  Add an additional tablespoon or two of warm water if the dough looks too dry.

→  Using a greased muffin scoop, or large spoon drop rounds of dough (4 tablespoons each) into prepared pan.  Nestle the dough 1 ½ inches apart so it has a bit of room to rise. (see picture below)

→  Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and place in a warm (80 degree) place.  Allow the rolls to rise (they should double in size) for 60-75 minutes .

→  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

→  Bake the rolls on the center rack for 10 minutes.  Remove the rolls from oven and quickly brush the tops with a beaten egg.

→  Return rolls to the oven and bake for 40 more minutes or until deep golden brown.  So that the tops of your rolls don’t get too dark, loosely drape a piece of aluminum foil over the top for the last 10-15 minutes.

→  Allow the rolls to cool in the pan briefly, then carefully turn them out and cool on a rack (to avoid soggy bottoms!) for 15-2o minutes before serving.  Serve warm.

→   Freeze leftover rolls in heavy duty plastic freezer bags.  I make mine a few days ahead, freeze, then thaw, wrap in foil and warm in the oven for the big day.

*  Arrowroot starch, or cornstarch would work too, depending on what your diet allows.

**  I used golden flax, but you could also use regular ground flax, millet flour or sorghum flour.

***  Resist the urge to add more sweet potato!  I love the stuff, so during recipe development I tried to put a bit more in the dough, but the rolls just won’t rise enough with the weight of the moist sweet potatoes.  Also, when measuring out the 3/4 cup of mashed sweet potato, pack it into your measuring cup with a spatula, trying to ensure that there are no air pockets.

27 thoughts on “Sweet Potato Pull-Apart Rolls

  1. Those are stunning and I bet they’re amazing with leftover turkey and cranberry chutney on it! I tend to over-eat at Thanksgiving, so I try to have NO leftovers! When we have folks over, I send them off with the leftovers or we go out with friends!

  2. You sound like you are inviting me, no?? Seriously I’d love to visit your during Thanksgiving! I haven’t really had proper Thanksgiving here. We always get invited by friends so we (I) never had a chance to prepare the whole meal. Your sandwich description made me drool. I wish I can have these rolls with me. I can eat a couple of them very fast…I can be dangerous at your home filled with good food.

  3. First of all, thank you for submitting this to GlutenFreeFeed. I seriously did a doubletake when I saw these and immediately clicked over because I thought, Wait, I hope these are gluten-free, cause they don’t LOOK gluten-free! Wow, they are completely gorgeous. These will definitely be on my list of recipes to try! Soon!!

    • Thank you Jen! I always love hearing that comment! Particularly from friends or guests who aren’t even gluten-free. So glad you stopped by! Going to check out the Gluten Free Feed now. I know I will be sending more recipes your way. 🙂

    • Thanks Jen! Nothing better than hearing back from someone who made and enjoyed a recipe. Oh, and don’t feel bad, I think my record is 5 rolls in a day. It happened to be the day I shot the photos and I had originally figured that I would just freeze the leftover rolls for Thanksgiving. Let’s just say that I will be needing to make another batch in the next few days! Oops.

  4. These are good in theory. I think maybe I used too big of a pan–I used a pan just a bit bigger than a 9×13 because I didn’t have a 10 in cake pane just a 9 inch and the 9×13 seemed to small. I also used regular flax seed and honey with the yeast and coconut sugar for the brown sugar but I don’t think that would make that much difference. Ten minutes before they were suppossed to be done they were really hard and dark. The racks was in the center on the 3rd one up out of four racks–so 2nd rack from the top–I don’t know what I did wrong. They didn’t have much flavor and they were so flat–I think next time I need to use the cake pan and make them bigger? I used an icecream scoop to make them –maybe that was too small? They tasted ok–I think it would be better in a smaller pan and bigger rolls?

    • Hi Ariana, I always love to hear how people adapt recipes to what ingredients they have on hand, and what their diet allows! Gluten-free bread recipes can be quite forgiving when adapting, but this recipe in particular is a little bit finicky because of the sweet potatoes. The sweet potato puree makes it a fairly heavy dough, so I had to do some tinkering to come up with a balance between flours and wet ingredients in order to have adequate rise. The ground flax seed I call for is used as one of the flour components of the recipe, so the whole seeds may have been one more “heavier” item that inhibited rise. I have also tried to make these rolls as individual dinner rolls and they didn’t rise as much. This recipe actually requires them to be tightly nestled in a pan so that they use the sides of the pan, and each-other to climb up. Also, this recipe has a very long baking time because, when they are tightly squeezed in a pan, it takes a long time to ensure thorough baking, particularly on the center rolls. If I was going to bake them spread further apart, or as individual rolls the baking time would need to be greatly reduced. I think the time I baked them on a sheet pan (spaced out) they baked in 25 minutes. That may be one reason they were so dark and hard earlier than anticipated. Thanks again for visiting and happy baking!

    • I used a bigger pan too, but mine turned out very tasty! Because the pan was too big, the rolls were not “pull-apart” and had crusty edges, but still very flavorful. I did reduce the baking time— I think the whole baking took just about 30 min. Tony named them “glorious buns” and they were all gone within a day (what?!…I wanted to freeze some!!). I think I might have used a bit too much orange zest (I didn’t measure, I grated about 1/2 of the orange before I juiced it) though, to really appreciate the delicate sweet potato flavor in the rolls, so I’ll have to try them again with exactly 1TB of the zest. (And what a wonder that one orange produces exactly 1/4C of juice! Or is it just me that didn’t know that?) I wonder if this recipe would work with pumpkin puree also? I will experiment and report back!

  5. I kept my promise! I made these with canned pumpkin, and they were delicious too. Tony added a little salt to the egg-wash, and that seemed to work very well in balancing flavors. I also measured the orange zest this time, and it was not over-powering anymore. I also tried a smaller (9 inch I think) round pan and enjoyed the pull-apart part this time! Thank you again for the great recipe!

    • Thank you for letting me know! I always wondered how that would work. I know the pumpkin is a bit less starchy and in a canned version there is a lot more water content, so I thought they may not rise as well. Glad to hear that it worked out and that they were delicious. I think the salt in the egg wash is a great idea! That will definitely help the flavor pop. Thanks for all the great feedback. It is always so helpful for me and other visitors to the blog! 🙂

  6. I made these today and I like them a lot! My didn’t turn out as pretty as yours. 😉

    Picture here http://i44.tinypic.com/256tjd3.jpg

    I didn’t do egg wash, I used “milk-wash”. Could I use milk instead of orange juice? I also skipped orange peel. I am not a fan of orange in baked goods. 🙂

  7. Hi there! These buns look absolutely amazing, and I’d love to try making them. However, I’m vegan, so using eggs is a no-no for me. Do you think these buns would turn out if I used egg-replacer, and omitted the egg wash?

    • Hi Natalie,
      I wish I had more knowledge about baking egg-free, but it isn’t an area I delve into very often. I do know that recipes with fewer eggs convert easier to egg-free baking. This gluten-free dough really relies on eggs for help with rise and structure. It would be a great experiment, but I just can’t guarantee results. Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you do decide to give it a try. Other readers who are vegan or have an egg allergy would be very appreciative!

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